10 reasons why The Nutcracker ballet is overrated

10 reasons why The Nutcracker ballet is overrated

1. It is expensive

With tickets priced anywhere between £50 and £200, a fun family day to the theatre will be quick to burn a hole in your pocket.

2. It is old fashioned

Whilst billed as a Children’s Christmas classic, it is difficult to find a little boy or girl in 2017 that would be content with receiving a glamourized kitchen tool for Christmas.

Kelly/Mooney Photography / Getty Images

3. It is nothing new

So there have been a range of re-interpretations of work, from the weird and wonderful work of Matthew Bourne and his company New Adventures, to new film, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, in which Clara hopes to find a hidden gift with a magical key. Whilst Christmas is the time for fairytales and magical stories, we must ask whether it is time for Miss Sugar Plum to get a dose of modern world reality.

4. The orchestra do not enjoy it

Tchaikovsky, as well as writing the music for the ballet itself, created a shorter stand-alone version for orchestral concerts. It’s simple rhythms, repetitive themes, and flourishing solos make it a perfect piece for … school Christmas concerts, adverts and cartoons. Just as Noddy Holder’s screaming of “Its Christmas!” can send shivers down the spine of any festive shopper, so too do the musicians squirm at the sound of the pizzicato strings that hail the start of the Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy for the 400th time that year.

5. It is an elite panto

Ballet is for everyone capable of movement. And yet, every year, the same audiences grace the seats of the Opera House. These aren’t the same people who attend the Boxing Day pantomimes. If the Nutcracker really is all about Christmas magic, then shouldn’t all children be able to experience it? The comedy, the glitter, the ability to escape into a wonder world is something that we all love. Luckily, we are now seeing more and more companies providing matinee performances especially for children and school groups. After all, the ballet dame is just as funny as the pantomime one!

Royal Opera House

6. Is it racist?

Okay, so racist might be stretch, but there are definitely incidents of some very cheesy stereotypes. The use of the Asian conical hat, or rice hat as it is known, in the Chinese tea dance, and the Princess Jasmine-esque outfit of the Arabian coffee dancers are of course, a representation and a pointer for a younger audience. However, in an age of smashing the stereotype and facing globalisation on a large scale, these costumes are starting to look a little outdated.

7. It was never created to be such a big production

Tchaikovsky’s original musical work for the Nutcracker was written to accompany an opera, Iolanthe, that he had begun writing the year before. Letters to his brother still exist, explaining how he had rather rush through the composition for The Nutcracker, so that he would be able to dedicate more time to his opera. In fact, Tchaikovsky only accepted the commission if the world could be featured alongside the opera.

8. You can’t eat popcorn in the theatre

Why not forego the pomp of the theatre for a trip to your local cinema? The Royal Ballet’s Nutcracker will be streamed into select cinemas until June 2018, so there is no excuse not to take a visit. You can watch the magic for a fraction of the price, and eat as much popcorn as you like! More information can be found at https://www.roh.org.uk/showings/the-nutcracker-live-2017

Running with Scissors

9. The dancers do not enjoy it

Tens of articles appear on dance sites each year, exposing the blood sweat and tears that go into a run of The Nutcracker. Whilst making the most delicate snowflakes and dewdrops on stage, the realities of many double-show days, the inevitable seasonal flu and the usual backstage politics, make Nutcracker season a tense time for many dancers.

10. The music gets stuck in your head FOREVER

The catchy, Christmassy melodies of the Nutcracker suite get stuck in your head quicker than an advert jingle and are only re-forced by stores playing the music round and round (but you secretly love it).

 

Despite best efforts to put you off, there is truly nothing that can quell the magic, beauty and festivity of The Nutcracker. Many companies are running their performances after Christmas and into January, and you can still book tickets here:

http://www.roh.org.uk/productions/the-nutcracker-by-peter-wright

https://www.ballet.org.uk/production/nutcracker/#venue-dates

https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/events/2017/the-nutcracker/

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